Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said earlier this week he had confidence in quarterback Kyle Allen and would be comfortable if the youngster were thrust into the starting role on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.
Allen will have a chance to show Rivera — and the rest of the NFL — that the confidence was warranted.
The Panthers ruled starting quarterback Cam Newton out of the game on Friday with a recurrence of a foot ailment that became a big topic this week.
The left foot issue apparently stems from the injury sustained during Newton’s lone preseason outing in the third exhibition game, at New England. It was aggravated in a loss to Tampa Bay in Carolina’s second game of the regular season.
The Panthers (0-2) had been in line to at least have an advantage with the extra time after playing in Week 2 on Thursday night. Instead, they spent time prepping Allen and rookie Will Grier, who assumes the backup QB role.
“A good decision-maker,” Rivera said of Allen. “He plays fast. You feel confident that he’s going to make good decisions.”
Allen, who played in high school in Scottsdale, Ariz., taking snaps means “we have to find out who we are with him as the quarterback,” Rivera said.
Rivera endorsed both backup quarterbacks, saying the team didn’t need to add a veteran.
“The guys we have here, we brought them here for a reason,” he said.
Arizona (0-1-1) has been out of sorts at times on offense as rookie quarterback Kyler Murray adjusts to the NFL.
“He’s still figuring out what he can and can’t do against NFL defenses,” first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
Now, the game comes down to Murray and his two NFL starts against Allen, a starter of one game in 2018.
“We’ve seen what he can do, and he can get the job done if Cam can’t play,” Panthers receiver Jarius Wright said of Allen earlier in the week. “We need to look in the mirror and figure out who we are. ... We’re a lot better team than what we’ve shown and what we’ve put on film. We’re working hard to put it together.”
The Panthers likely will want to see extra production from running back Christian McCaffrey. He racked up more than 200 yards from scrimmage in the opener before Tampa Bay kept him under wraps (53 total yards on 18 touches) in Week 2.
“We’ll get a heavy dose of him,” Kingsbury said. “He’s one of the most complete backs in the league right now.”
Murray has something in common with Newton after throwing for 349 and 308 yards in the first two weeks of the season. They’re the only two NFL players with 300 or more passing yards in their first two career games.
The Cardinals are going to air it out. Their 94 passes thrown through the first two weeks are the most by any team in the league.
“We have to see what I can do better to get us in a rhythm,” Kingsbury said. “I have to create matchups.”
Barring another tie, one of these teams will land in the win column this weekend.
“It’s a long season,” Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson. “That’s probably the most famous quote at this time when things are not going right. It’s true. It’s a long season.”
Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short (shoulder) and tight end Greg Olsen (back) were listed as questionable.
Safety Tre Boston returned to Carolina this season after playing in 14 games last season for Arizona. Former Panthers receiver Damiere Byrd is with the Cardinals.
This is the first meeting between the teams since Carolina won at home in 2016.
—Field Level Media